Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exploring the Hudepohl Brewery

"The great glories so many people are proud of - palaces, factories, and monuments, the emblems with which we identify - are nothing more than relics of an extinguished civilization."

While brewing in Cincinnati is hardly an "extinguished civilization" these days, when I came across this quote (which actually refers to post-civil war Barcelona), I was immediately reminded of a recent expedition to the old Hudepohl Brewery. Looming over the 6th St. Viaduct, it would indeed be easy to mistake this massive, decaying shell for a bombed-out victim of war. This behemoth, however, has fallen victim to the far more silent killer that is neglect.

Apparently there were/are big plans for the remaining structure(s) at some point along the way. Gordon Bombay of Queen City Discovery, who invited me to tag along on this recent exploration, let me know that the current owner aimed to turn the former brewery into a multi-use condominium complex. The potential for a highway to cut right through this land, however, has apparently put this plan on hold for now.

After viewing the state of this building first-hand, having seeing it only from the elevated vantage point of an expressway until this point, I can't help but be pessimistic. For me, this experience was an incredibly sad one. A building that once represented a vital cultural and industrial lifeline, literally reduced to rubble. For historians, preservationists, beer enthusiasts, and lovers of Cincinnati and its cultural legacy, the state of this historic building is a poignant sight. Large portions of the Hudepohl brewery complex still stand, but I wonder for how much longer.